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Sierra Leone Lost Fourth Doctor to Ebola After WHO Refused to Help Transfer Her to Safety

Sierra Leone Lost Fourth Doctor to Ebola After WHO Refused to Help Transfer Her to Safety
As the West African Ebola outbreak that has taken more than 2,000 lives continues to spread, the World Health Organization has increasingly warned that the international community has not done enough to stop it. This weekend, however, it was the WHO who did not do enough, as Sierra Leone lost a fourth top Ebola doctor to the disease after the WHO denied funding to bring her to safety.

The Associated Press reports that Dr. Olivet Buck, one of Sierra Leone’s top medical professionals, died on Saturday after contracting Ebola. The government of that nation, having lost three other top Ebola doctors, urged the WHO to provide funding to evacuate Dr. Buck from Sierra Leone and bring her to Germany, but the international public health agency denied funding for the project. It is not immediately clear why the WHO refused to transfer Dr. Buck to Germany given the extreme lack of competent medical personnel in Sierra Leone working to fight off the disease.

“We know what to do. We know how to do it. But we do need to coordinate global efforts to deal with it,” said WHO director Margaret Chan of the disease in early September, urging state parties to join the efforts against the disease.

Sierra Leone’s Awareness Times is currently showcasing an exclusive report on Dr. Buck’s final days, in which they allege that the doctor had begun treating herself at the hospital after becoming sick, but not seeking the medical attention of others at the hospital, save a few nurses who helped her self-medicate. “Dr. Olivette Buck had fallen ill with clear cut signs of Ebola for over one week in form of fever and headache,” the newspaper reports, “for which she did not seek to get tested for Ebola but was self-treating herself.”

Sierra Leone’s operation to combat Ebola is now more sparse than it has ever been. Since the loss of Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, the nation’s top Ebola expert, in July, hospitals in the nation have been severely understaffed and plagued with equipment shortages. Sierra Leone is not alone in struggling to combat the outbreak with a larger staff. In neighboring Liberia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced the firing of ten government officials today working abroad, after they failed to return to Liberia when called to work on an emergency Ebola team.

NBC News reports that the Liberian officials were deemed “out of the country without an excuse,” and include six assistant ministers, two deputy ministers and two commissioners. “These government officials showed insensitivity to our national tragedy and disregard for authority,” the Liberian government said in a statement released late on Saturday.

According to the latest World Health Organization estimates, 2,288 people have died of Ebola as of September 9, though that figure is believed to be significantly understated given the difficulty in tracking Ebola cases and subsequent deaths, particularly in the rural areas of Guinea and Sierra Leone.


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